SPUR was my first introduction to participating in therapeutic horseback riding. I had known it was a “thing” – a couple years prior, I had researched programs around Indiana in hopes of donating my pony Peanut to one when it became clear I wasn’t going to be able to keep her. It had ended with a couple programs I had reached out to informing me they weren’t looking for any horses at the time.
Compared to the program I helped with extensively during college (where the picture is from, though I still look like a child… especially compared to big ol Belle), let’s just say SPUR was more “laid-back.” And by laid back I mean basically nothing they did followed PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) protocol and it was generally a chaotic mess where amazingly, no one was hurt – at least that I witnessed.
There were no goals, assessments, or tracking beyond who was there and who wasn’t, which makes the rec therapist in me cringe. There was only one person with any prior experience in this area trying to help run the program though, and she wasn’t consistently there each week. Couple that with the barn owner who had little interest in going through the steps to get the program “official” – and with it, possible funding or grant opportunities for participants – but was gung-ho about getting as many people out at a time and paying and it’s easy to see why the program wasn’t terribly successful (and neither was the barn for much longer…).
Still, as they say, sometimes it’s as helpful to learn what to do as it is not to do. That, in addition to the joy participants shared when things were going well, makes me glad I helped out.
November 9, 2011
So I’ve just now got around to it, but last Wednesday was a blast for me! The stable of my job has a therapeutic riding program for handicapped children of all ages, and I’ve been wanting to volunteer. I couldn’t since school started because a) SPUR (the name of the program) hadn’t started yet, and b) I was in my last season of cross country, so my life pretty much has revolved around that since June.
Last Wednesday I almost didn’t get to go out either, but ended up coming late and kind of chilled as gate opener/closer for about fifteen minutes. One of the main ladies had gotten out Gretel – who will eventually be used in SPUR – to give her some practice time in the atmosphere, but she ended up helping one of the kids so the owner asked if I would ride Gretel around for her. Of course! I felt like a kid in a candy shop despite the fact that my jeans were WAY too tight *insert grimace*.
I had a great time though because another girl and I ended up playing “red light, yellow light, green light” with a little boy named King at one end of the arena. Naturally, King wanted to constantly have “green light” = trotting, and his poor helpers had to eventually slow it down because they, unlike him, were running, and having just a slight problem keeping up.
After SPUR was over, I was treated to piggyback onto one of the “greenies lessons” with miss Gretel, who was very sweet to my super-out-of-sync self!
The best part is I’m going again tonight! No idea what I’ll be doing, but hopefully more riding time is in order, and hopefully some pictures as well!